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Online affidavit: Did it work?

Was the new online filing procedure for the R4 private school affidavit a success? We don't know. As this article goes to print, the California Department of Education (CDE) has taken the online form off its website. Anyone desiring to file a private school affidavit mid-year now must submit a request in writing for a paper copy of the form.

Prior to the online form's disappearance, some of those who used it found CDE's response confusing. For example, a large percentage of people who filed online following CDE's instructions, printed off the form, signed it, mailed it to CDE, and even obtained some sort of receipt verifying that they mailed it, were told that CDE had not received the signed copy. It would seem that the online process did not really make things easier since the department had a hard time keeping track of the online and paper affidavits.

In addition, a number of parents who filed private school affidavits with six or more students for the first time received a phone call from the CDE trying to determine if the school was a new school or a previously existing school that had already been assigned a "CDS" school identification number. Many families found these unanticipated calls unnerving.

Some first-time homeschooling families have also had difficulties with their local school districts alleging truancy of their children, despite the fact that they properly withdrew and enrolled their children in private schools. Fortunately, to this point, Home School Legal Defense Association legal staff has been able to resolve those contacts. No charges have been actually filed against any member family.

What does this all mean for the 2003-2004 school year? Will the R4 online filing process be improved? Eliminated? We really don't know if the online form streamlined the process for the CDE or not. We will keep you informed as the department reveals its plans.

We are already seeing the impact of California's budget problems on homeschoolers. Junior colleges are facing $80 million in budget cuts--a move that will certainly affect state-subsidized concurrent enrollment options for both private "home" schools and public school students.

On the other hand, the budget difficulties may also protect us from potential homeschool legislation. With the largest homeschool population in the country, the cost of California administering homeschool regulations would have a tremendous impact on state and school district coffers. Let's hope that during a time of deep budget cuts, the legislature will not try to pass any measures regarding homeschooling.

HSLDA, Family Protection Ministries, and Christian Home Educators Association of California will continue to closely monitor all bills introduced that might impact homeschool or parental rights.

J. Michael Smith